Why I Review Weekly

Yesterday, I went to bed with a clear mind.

Jeez, it seems like so long since I've been able to say that.

This morning, I didn't snooze my alarm. I got up at 5am, completed my morning routine and felt as fresh as a daisy.

Well, if it's been a long time since the first sentence was uttered from my lips or typed on a screen, then I dread to think how long it's been since the second one was borne into existence.

Where has the sudden change come from? Well, I attribute it to the fact that I restructured how I complete my Weekly Review.

What Is a Weekly Review?

The power of the weekly review isn't a new thing. The first time I came across it was when I read David Allen's "Getting Things Done". Creating lists, identifying tasks that need to be done and working on projects is great. However, without a trusted system for reviewing all of the 'stuff' you have going on, you will never be sure that you are in control of everything, or that you are currently doing exactly what you should be.

I've been finding myself getting increasingly frustrated with the amount of items left unchecked on my to-do list by the end of the day (stupid huh? I mean, who is it assigns it all? ME!). There is so much that I want to work on, so many plates that I am trying to spin, it's going to take some real management to allow them all to come to fruition.

And there it is. The hole in my workflow. Let me just write that again, for my own sanity, so I can reinforce the point to myself.

It's going to take some real management to allow them all to come to fruition.

That's better. I feel clearer again just writing that statement. You see, I've been adding projects to OmniFocus like a crazy man, assuming that by placing them into a piece of software that I trust will somehow automatically make them work. I was forgetting though that the application is useless if it's not underpinned by a framework for it's use. In my case, I was using a Review process that was great a year ago, however now my life has changed direction and the systems I use to manage my life haven't adapted with them.

I used to be able to schedule a thirty-minute window for reviewing my projects in OmniFocus. That was enough, with time to spare. Since I've extended how much I use it, I've been finding that hasn't been long enough, or that the time I had been scheduling myself on the calendar to do it was no longer appropriate. Yet rather than address this issue, I'd push it aside. "Ah, come on, I'm fine, I need to spend more time doing than reviewing" crossed my mind more than once, I can tell you.

Yesterday, it took me two hours to do my Weekly Review. And it wasn't just an OmniFocus review - it was a review of all of the systems I currently have, as well as a brain dump of everything I had going on. All of that stuff floating around my brain, incomplete, tugging at my attention where it didn't belong. I was able to get it all out, into OmniFocus where I now have Next Actions assigned to them all.

So what's in my new Weekly Review:

OmniFocus

I have to start there as it's where the majority of my projects are managed. By using the Review button, I'm able to look at Projects that haven't been looked at for a pre-determined amount of time (the default is a week, however there are many projects that have been pushed back to two week, four week, even quarterly reviews). I assess them to check I can see where/when the project ends, as well as whether there are Next Actions assigned. I also pause to examine the progress that has been made, if any. Why am I stalling on it? Is it something that can be placed "On Hold" until a later date, or is it just assigned the wrong context and therefore not coming to my attention?

I assess every project on the Review tab and will only click Mark Reviewed when I am comfortable with the project's direction.

I have also added some weekly reviews for each Perspective that I have. I have found that it can be all to easy to add new projects and actions, yet they don't appear in the Custom Perspective I had built prior. By reviewing one Perspective per day, I know that everything will get the required attention.

Calendar

I review the calendar for the coming week and start creating the base themes. This is something that I have only just started and I want to see if it works. Right now, for example, I am in the "Writing" theme. I have an OmniFocus Perspective called "Writing" and this is the only set of tasks that I have available when in this theme, or mode. I look at when I am working for my main client and start to assign the themes around that. Ideally, they will be the same as the previous week, so I review the previous week's themes and look for what worked and what didn't. I then schedule in my themes as I see fit. Evenings tend to alternate between Home and Geek themes. Home is where I work on tasks around the house or related to any specific Home and Family projects, whereas Geek is where I just get to kick back and be myself. I might watch stuff on Netflix, read, catch up on some Lynda videos, play games - it's essentially time for me to be myself and relax.

This seems a strange theme to put on the Calendar, however I used to find that if I didn't schedule time in for it, it just didn't happen. That led to the overwhelm I've been feeling and now, I have anchors in my week that I can always look forward to.

Tech

I check out all of the Documents areas on my Macbook - that's iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Documents, Downloads - make sure it's all nice and orderly. If Hazel don't appear to be running for whatever reason, I create a task in OmniFocus to investigate.

I check what is syncing to my iPhone and iPad, as well as the current space on each. I also double check the videos I have downloaded on Lynda and create actions for anything that needs to be stored on the devices.

I also use this opportunity to run Clean My Mac 3 and perform a spring clean of my device.

I give DEVONthink Pro Office some attention as well, making sure that I am happy with the current group structures, emptying the trash and processing the Inbox. I also run a physical backup of the databases to my NAS device at home.

Physical Inboxes

I have a physical inbox for my paper documents that come through (although this is reducing week on week). This gets scanned and emptied, ready for shredding, with the resulting PDF's stored in DEVONthink Pro Office. There may also be other things like toys that need batteries, hand-written notes etc.

It's amazing the sense of clarity that comes from a regular review. Now I feel confident that everything that was on my mind is now going to be taken care of and I've got room left in my brain now for creating and having ideas - that's what it's for after all.